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Thursday, Sept. 07, 2006
It was raining, in that way people often describe as “It was coming down in sheets! Sheets of rain, I tell ye!” last Friday as the Ernesto storm wafted through Swampville. For those of you who don’t live on the coastline, much less the Swampline, having a day which tosses 15” of rain on you probably sounds pretty darn miserable.

We get a couple like that every year. Makes our Swamps grow.

But like I said it was raining last Friday, and I slogged to the newest jobsite with the rest of the populous at a steady 45 mph. Steady, because on a three lane highway I was leading a pack of dozens. What is it about a big white officious-looking truck with many doors on each side that triggers that “Oooh, that guy looks like he’ll make it through okay, maybe I better follow him” mentality? Kind of like a Hyundai trailing after a snowplow.

So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Made it to the site, dashed through the downpour and up to my third floor perch and noted the distinct lack of other worker bees in the hive. “Slackers”, I thought. “These kids just can’t hang with a little weather.”

The superintendent on this gig is a grouchy, mean cantankerous old coot who I’ve run into many time over the past 25 years or so, which automatically makes him a friend. There being precious few of us left. He trudged his way up to the third floor and leaned heavily against a door frame as I started sawing on some cherry paneling.

“Heh. Nice of you to show up. Aren’t you the loyal little farkin’ employee. Get a little moist on the way in, did we?”

“’Bit. Get your fat ass off my wood door jamb.”

(Translation: “Good morning, dear colleague, delighted to see you.” “And you as well, my esteemed supervisor.”)

He rambled on down the hall, muttering darkly about Labor Day weekends and rain and schedules, about damned kids who never show up for work, and just who the hell left this mess in the hallway?

I guess about an hour went by, and I’d made barely a cup full of sawdust out of that cherry when one of the minions happened by, one of those nameless job-rats I come across on every project. “Hey, you’re Outfoxed, right? Just heard, the super is shutting us down at 9 o’clock. Better get your stuff put away.”

I probably blinked, audibly. “The Old Man is shutting it down? Why, for heavens sake?”

The kid waved at the window and snorted. “It’s pouring out there! We got water ponding in the parking lot and the storm drains are backing up and . . .”

“. . .and that old fart is throwing in the towel, eh? Wait’ll I get hold of his wussy ass. Probably doesn‘t hurt that it‘s Labor Day weekend either, does it now.”

9 am turned out to be like so 5 minutes from now, and it takes me a lot longer than that to pack away all the stuff that makes my parties fun. So it was something closer to 9:30 when I donned the raincoat, slung the tool belt over my shoulder and elbowed the front door open. The super was standing under the overhang and scanning the monsoon, and me, with a resigned look.

“You finally packed up? I’m getting the hell out right now.”

“You’re getting’ a tad soft in your old age, ain’t ye? Pullin’ the plug on this thing for a little rainstorm? Gah, kids these days, got no drive, no heart at all. Why when I was younger, we . . .”

“Get the hell outta here afore I throw you out! I ain’t drownin’ on account of your ugly, stinkin’, no-work wood butcherin’ rusty tooled carpenter ass! Git!”

(Translation: “I must be going, it’s been an absolute delight, as always.”)

I got. Honked the horn and flashed him with the high beams (while he stood like Ahab, shaking his fist) and did my best to avoid that big puddle as I went by him, a rooster tail spraying everything in its path. Part of me was a little pissed, “Two hours work and I get the heave-ho, for this?” type thinking while the rational side was saying “Hoo, three day weekend plus today!”

I think the rational side won. Plus, and it’s a big plus, I bore away treasure.

I’m now officially the crankiest old man on site. No small honor, that.

Tropical storms have a way of blowing out of an area, and I was keen to see it go. Ally and I had a little trip scheduled some where’s south of here.

Because, you see, our house has arrived.

The little half acre deep in the Swamp now has a building. Or at least the bulk of a building. Comes in pieces, don’t you know. Some assembly required.

So we went. And it’s there, and we stood in the mud and cackled about porches and trees and workshops. If I’d had a lick of sense a camera would have made the trip and things would have perspective.

This too, will happen. Things are happening now.

As things generally always do.

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